Leaving blog – Hannah Rose, UJS President 2018-2019
When I started at the University of Bristol in 2014, I remember saying to my sister that when it came to J-Soc, I wasn’t sure. Either I would do nothing, or I would do everything. 5 years, 3 Summits, 4 UJS Conferences, 5 NUS Conferences, and at least 50 UJS lanyards later, it’s quite clear which one I chose.
UJS is a unique driving force in our Jewish community. We are not just a campus organisation, we are the only campus organisation working from the right to the left, across the denominational spectrum, campaigning for liberation rights to political activism. We influence national bodies, are invited to represent students on the international stage, whilst always staying true to campus and students, and never sacrificing our foundations.
In my hustings for UJS President, I was asked which politician I admired and I led with Jo Cox’s words ‘we have more in common than that which divides us’. A year and a half later, Jo’s words stand truer than ever, both inside and outside our Jewish community, and I hope that my leadership over the past year has embodied Jo’s sentiments.
Jewish students are often patronised, paternalised or belittled. Yet we, and I mean WE, are the ones leading the conversation for the future of our community. It is Jewish students who are standing up on campus every day leading responsible conversations about Israel, passing policy on IHRA and defeating BDS. And it is UJS that leads these fights, delivers on students’ wishes and decade after decade, wins for Jewish students.
Outside of our community, we’ve had a challenging year. We’ve run out of adjectives to describe our disgust at rising antisemitism, but we’ve taken the challenge head on, and responded to every incident with maturity, consideration and a strategic mind-set. But as I’ve said at every single opportunity I can this year, the story of Jewish student is not one of antisemitism, but one of a vibrant and fulfilling university experience.
Serving the 8,500 Jewish students of the UK and Ireland is a job like no other. My proudest moments have been when I know that we have been standing up and speaking out. Whether in a meeting with the Prime Minister, on stage at the European Commission, addressing the community rally after the Pittsburgh massacre, or in a ground breaking Black History Month video, we are changing the conversation and the community around us.
We may not always all agree with the stance taken on every issue, but it cannot be denied that we at UJS lead, enrich, represent, and we stand tall. There is no other group that is uncompromisingly peer led, defiantly independent and fiercely grassroots. In the length and breadth of our work, there is more value to UJS than can be expressed in a short blog.
As UJS reaches its 100th year, the true impact of our legacy is not only a source of pride, but a building block for the future of the community. It is up to current and future students to take on that challenge, and from my experiences on campus this year, I have no doubt that they will rise to it.
Thank you for the honour of leading this powerful organisation; it is an experience that has changed my life. In Esther Offenberg you have a fresh, motivated, personable and down-to-earth President who I know will lead UJS to new heights.
Hannah Rose, UJS President 2018-2019